As a serial entrepreneur and leadership coach, I have had the opportunity to build high-performance teams primarily comprised of millennials. I am also always fascinated by how other entrepreneurs create wildly successful new business ideas or simply make an existing model better. One of the best ways to learn new approaches is to study the strategies of other entrepreneurs doing great things.
Today’s business environment is far more complex, volatile and competitive than is was twenty years ago. But new technologies and creative approaches to existing business models have leveled the playing field substantially.
So how do millennial entrepreneurs compete with their much larger more well-established competitors? By leveraging their unique mindset.
I recently connected with the millennial mavericks at Momentum Ventures, the group powering their unique brands based in Vancouver, Canada. These four young entrepreneurs have created not just one successful brand, but many simultaneously. But it hasn’t come without sacrifice, determination and humility. Often working throughout the night, these millennials have parlayed $6,000 investments into million-dollar businesses through their unique blend of old-school hard work and discipline with ‘non-marketing’ marketing.
I managed to nail down high-energy Co-Founders, Benjamin Weir, 23, Mehtab Bhogal, 23, and brothers, Tyler and Ryan Cresswell, 22 and 24 to understand exactly how they’ve achieved such early success through their firm, Momentum Ventures. Nestled inside downtown Vancouver, the group has built several businesses through a smattering of satellite operations and tightly-managed contractor-partners in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
1 – They think big and build communities of brand evangelists.
“We think and operate globally. Our ventures generate millions from customers around the world, and that means running support teams and operations across multiple time zones. Sleep isn’t exactly a priority around here,” explains Ryan Cresswell, a co-founder of Momentum Ventures. Not only are they refusing to sleep, they’re refusing to ‘push products’, the hallmark of traditional marketing. And having owned a digital marketing agency for the last ten years, I can appreciate the customer-centric inbound marketing strategy. Investing time and energy in building communities of brand evangelists is far more successful that old school “push” marketing.
“It just isn’t something we can be proud of, it feels kind of like the old-fashioned used car salesmen pushing junk on first-time buyers. Pomwell Ventures, our residential real estate company, grew quickly by focusing on delivering a high quality product, not overpromising with tacky marketing. After seeing how quickly Pomwell grew, we applied the same mindset to our online businesses,” explains Tyler Cresswell. “Instead of pushing products, we nurture massive social communities of evangelist customers through genuine engagement. We build relationships and respect our customers. In turn, our seven-figure communities are immensely loyal. That customer loyalty fuels the prosperity that drives our businesses,” explains, Mehtab Bhogal. The Momentum Ventures’ ethos of hard work and ‘non-marketing’ marketing is what its founders credit with the success of at least two of their recent businesses: BluMaan, a men’s hair care brand with over 615,000 subscribers, and Wired Guitarist, a specialty-guitar community store with over 300,000 active users.
2 – They focus on quality over “smoke-and-mirror” marketing strategies.
Both are private companies founded with less than $6,000 and both ramped to six-figure sales in only months. “Our sales ramp-up at lightning speed because we only sell high-quality products and only to those who truly believe in the integrity of our brands. As a result, our customers come back, repeatedly, and tell their friends and families along the way,” says Ben Weir. “For us, sales ignition is the patiently engineered outcome of a community’s belief in what we do.”
Too many entrepreneurs wrongly believe that ignition is immediate, the co-founders preach with conviction. They explain that it’s outdated to build a fancy web site, pour loads of money into online visibility, stick a bunch of products on the shelf and then push them on customers.
“That is archaic and just plain wrong. It’s like holding matches to a tank of gasoline and then wondering why it all blew up,” explains Ryan Cresswell. So how, exactly, do these 20-somethings dominate cutthroat industries that demand huge marketing budgets? The process starts by either creating or acquiring a community of like-minded people that are passionate about the same thing. Monetizing the products is secondary to ensuring that our communities are run exceptionally well. Our supporters are the catalyst to all we do, and they deserve our unbridled respect,” says Tyler.
3 – They deliver customer-centric solutions for improving products.
After building their communities, they work to understand what problems customers are facing and how to deliver purposeful solutions. For example, the Wired Guitarist community was annoyed that traditional music stores are staffed by under motivated, low-paid part-time workers with little or no product knowledge. Worse yet, these stores fail to deliver high-quality guitars that are technically sound. “We listened and responded. Every Wired Guitarist instrument is thoroughly inspected by a qualified technician before delivery to customers. Nearly one in every six units are rejected during inspection and are rebuilt for the customer until the product is right,” says Bhogal. In addition to stock items, many of their guitars are manufactured by the world’s leading brands and built specifically to technical specs demanded by the community.
“We thrive because our customers get exactly what they want and need, and at prices that nobody else can match,” states Bhogal. “Our inventory flies off the shelves, our receivables are always in-check, and the cash register rings because customers are happy and our community is excited by what we’re delivering and how we’re delivering it.”
I have seen this entrepreneurial passion at work in my own companies. One of our biggest challenges was to adapt our leadership style to fit the way this generation thinks and approaches both work and life. As for these rising stars, I also found it hard to believe that these millennials were the first ones to go about creating new businesses in this way, so I asked them if they are the first, or even the only ones leveraging communities in this way.
“We aren’t the first, and definitely not the only ones. Others have found success with this method, although most approach it in a half-baked way. They ruin the user experience by trying to squeeze money out of everyone in their forum and don’t moderate their forums enough. This leads to content pollution of their platforms. Toxic platforms don’t attract users, and certainly don’t create loyal customers,” explains Tyler Cresswell.
Meanwhile, the group continues to quietly develop their upcoming grocery retail business aims to do for grocery-buyers what Uber has done for cab-customers. On that final note, we’re interrupted yet again by another call. It turns out a large development contract was just approved. The room suddenly buzzes with energy like a hive on high alert. The team won’t keep their customers waiting. Not even for this interview.
This article was written by Brent Gleeson from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.